The Political Death of the Bogus Caesar

March 13, 1869, page 164

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The Political Death Of Bogus Caesar
"Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!
Run hence, proclaim, cry it about the streets."

"Some to the common pulpits, and cry out
Liberty, Freedom, and Enfranchisement!"

Please see the HarpWeek commentary of this cartoon below:

HarpWeek Commentary: Thomas Nast drew this cartoon in May 1868, but not for Harper’s Weekly, for which he had not worked in more than a year. It was intended for the short-lived Illustrated Chicago News (April-June 1868), a would-be rival to Harper’s Weekly.

The cartoon is a close parody of a painting by J. L. Gérôme called "The Death of Caesar." Nast obviously thought Johnson would be impeached, so he showed him lying dead on the floor with his chair upside down and his vetoes at his side. In the right front, a scroll has "Tenure of Office" written on it. Johnson’s own words "Treason is a crime and must be punished" are thrown back at him in the sign over his head.

The Republican gladiators with their swords upraised constituted the managers who conducted the impeachment. They are (from the left) George Boutwell (Mass.), John Logan (IL.), John Bingham (Ohio), James Wilson (Iowa), Benjamin Butler (Mass.), and Thomas Williams (PA). Thaddeus Stevens (PA) is shown exiting the scene on the far right. Stevens died in August 1868; it is obvious that this cartoon was drawn well before his death.

However, Harper’s Weekly waited for the end of Johnson’s term before publishing it in the issue of March 13, 1869, along with a contemptuous editorial. By then Nast was back as a regular contributor and brought this cartoon with him.


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